Archive for murder

Crossfire

Posted in Film, Film Noir with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 16 September, 2008 by Ally

Edward Dmytryk, 1947

Crossfire is a dark and gritty film noir, brimming with the kind of expressionistic shadows and sardonic repartee you would expect from that style. It tackles some controversial issues of the time, depicting an anti-Semitic murder committed by a soldier unable to reintegrate into post-war civilian life.

A group of demobilized soldiers go out to share a drink, but listless Floyd Bowers (Steve Brodie) befriends a kindly Jewish man named Joseph Samuels (Sam Levene). They go back to Samuels’ apartment for a drink, closely followed by two of Bowers’ old army buddies. When Samuels is found dead later that evening, world-weary Captain Finlay (Robert Young) investigates the last people to see him alive. The imposing and outspoken Montgomery (Robert Ryan) points the finger at Bowers, who is conspicuous by his absence, but Sgt. Keeley (a reliably acerbic Robert Mitchum) is convinced of his innocence. Continue reading

North By Northwest

Posted in Film, Hitchcock with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 6 September, 2008 by Ally
(Alfred Hitchcock, 1959)

There is actually no such direction...

There is nothing I could say about North By Northwest that hasn’t already been said. Well, that’s not strictly true, it has probably never been said that Cary Grant’s stunt double was just a suit stuffed with pork sausages, but apart from absurd lies there is nothing I could say about North By Northwest that hasn’t already been said. It was written by Ernest Lehman with the express intention of out-Hitchcocking Hitchcock. As such, it features all the director’s hallmarks in spades; a case of mistaken identity, a sexy blonde, unsettling events in familiar surroundings, plot twists, suspense, murder and intrigue. And a few giggles along the way.

Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant) is an advertising executive leading a busy but fairly ordinary life, until he is mistaken for government agent George Kaplan by enemy spies. This happens because, whilst lunching with his high-powered businessman friends in a hotel, he calls for the bellhop who has been paging Kaplan. All Thornhill wants to do is send a telegram to his mother, but the spies make an ass out of you and me, ya dig? After being kidnapped, interrogated by someone claiming to be “Townsend” (James Mason), force-fed bourbon and left in a car to have a near miss with the edge of a cliff, Thornhill is arrested for driving under the influence. The police are skeptical about his kidnap story, as is his mother (Jessie Royce Landis), but he is determined to find the real Kaplan and clear his name. He tracks down Kaplan’s unoccupied hotel room, but is again mistaken for him after foolishly answering the telephone and finding his captors on the other end. He is even blamed for the murder of the real Townsend, a United Nations representative who doesn’t look a bit like James Mason. And all for a telegram! Continue reading

The Lady From Shanghai

Posted in Film, Film Noir with tags , , , , , , , , , on 5 September, 2008 by Ally

There is a story that John Lennon, upon hearing that Beatles lyrics were being analysed in University classes, wrote I Am The Walrus just to fuck with the scholars. I can’t help but wonder if Orson Welles made The Lady From Shanghai with similar motivations. The plot of this film noir is notoriously complex and deliberately disjointed, so much so that even Welles himself could not summarize it for a furious studio boss, and iconic Rita Hayworth appears with her trademark red hair cut short and bleached.

"And they all lived happily ever after... The End."

To cut a shaggy-dog story short, Michael O’Hara is an Irishman who freely admits he’s not the fastest ship in the fleet, but he is what you’d call an able-bodied sailor. He is played by Welles with a comically thick Irish brogue and rugged good-looks from particular angles. After a chance meeting with Elsa (Rita Hayworth), he is employed to run her husband’s yacht. The husband is Arthur Bannister (Everett Sloan), an “elaborate cripple” with two canes and a silly walk that would make John Cleese weep. He also happens to be the world’s greatest criminal lawyer. Continue reading

Manhattan Murder Mystery

Posted in Film, Woody Allen with tags , , , , , , , , on 4 September, 2008 by Ally

It’s one of those Ronseal titles, isn’t it? You know, does exactly what it says on the tin. Manhattan Murder Mystery (Woody Allen, 1993) is a murder mystery set in Manhattan. There’s a mystery and a murder. And all this murder and mystery happens… in Manhattan.

Woody Allen in Manhattan Murder Mystery

"My life is passing before my eyes. The worst part about it is that I'm driving a used car."

The setting is Manhattan, the mystery is a murder and the murder is a mystery. Married couple Larry and Carol Lipton (Woody Allen and Diane Keaton) live in a high-rise Manhattan apartment, where it’s easy to suspect but difficult to prove. After their neighbour Lillian House unexpectedly dies, Carol’s imagination is fueled by a screening of Double Indemnity, and she begins to suspect Lillian’s husband Paul of murder. Larry is unenthused by the prospect of spying on nice Mr. House, but recently-divorced Ted (Alan Alda) is keen to investigate with Carol, leaving Larry more suspicious of foreplay than foul play. Continue reading